The Kansas Jayhawks will face the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the second round of the NCAA tournament in Lincoln, Neb. at 7 p.m. at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Friday. The match will be available to stream on ESPN+.
With the Jayhawks’ three-set win over Miami on Thursday, they now have the opportunity to play Nebraska for the first time in the regular season in over 25 years.
“It will be an opportunity,” Bechard said. “But the team will be ready for it. This time of the year, you’re bound to run into good teams eventually.”
Coming off of a career-high game in total blocks, super-senior middle blocker Rachel Langs will look to lead the Jayhawks on both sides of the ball against the Huskers. Langs is second in total blocks on the team, behind only graduate student middle blocker Lauren Dooley. Both players rank top ten in the conference in blocks per set (8th and 5th, respectively).
Junior libero Kennedy Farris leads the Jayhawks with 332 digs on the season and an average of 3.10 digs per set.
On the offensive side, redshirt freshman outside hitter Ayah Elnady leads the team with 292 kills and has top marks in kills per set as well (2.83). Sophomore setter Camryn Turner sits at 989 assists (9.24 per set played).
“[It’s the] NCAA Tournament, and there will be a big crowd here. We’ve got a nice little facility in Lawrence but it’s a mini version of what’s going on here,” Bechard said about the matchup. “I know who’s favored, but I think we’re in the right frame of mind to take on whoever it is.”
Defensively, Nebraska is one of the top teams in the nation. Throughout the season, the Huskers have held their opponents to .129 hitting, which leads all of Division I. Senior middle blocker Kaitlyn Hord leads the way with 150 total blocks, and 1.55 blocks per set— a mark that placed her fourth nationally and second in the Big Ten Conference. The Huskers rank 10th in the nation in blocks per set.
Sophomore libero Lexi Rodriguez is an important part of Nebraska’s game plan. Unanimously named to this year’s All-Big Ten Conference team, Rodriguez leads the Huskers with 4.26 digs per set and 413 digs in total.
On the other side of the ball, senior outside hitter Madi Kubik— another unanimous All-Big Ten selectee— leads the team in kills (314) and kills per set (3.24). Senior setter Nicklin Hames leads the team with 399 assists and 5.78 assists per set, but she has not played in Nebraska’s previous two games due to a presumed concussion. The question of whether or not she will play on Friday night is very crucial for both teams going into the regional matchup.